Judge Puts the Squeeze on WOTUS Delay
U.S. District Judge David Norton ruled the Trump administration Executive Order did not properly seek public input when it suspended the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule. This ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina impacts 26 states, with reviews pending in an additional 24 states.
“By refusing to allow public comment and consider the merits of the WOTUS rule and the 1980s regulation, the agencies did not allow a ‘meaningful opportunity’ to comment,” Norton wrote in the decision.
Bloomberg News reports states impacted by this injunction include California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
“We desperately hope the administration will take immediate steps in the court to limit the scope of this injunction to South Carolina,” Ellen Steen, General Counsel and Secretary at the American Farm Bureau Federation told Bloomberg News. “Otherwise, this ruling puts farmers and ranchers in 26 states into enormous legal risk.”
The WOTUS Rule expanded definitions of wetlands and small waterways as defined by the Clean Water Act.
“EPA and the Army will review the order as the agencies work to determine next steps,” an EPA spokesperson told Bloomberg Environment.